A Ufological Manifest Destiny
In the modern context, the concept of hubris has evolved. While it still maintains its ancient Greek root, it has moved to also include the prideful ideal that one is superior to the other. An example of this can be seen in American history. The colonization of the American West was justified by a concept known as manifest destiny, a cultural hubris that establishes one people as being better than another. We see this theme continue today, primarily in politics, where there exists a fundamental belief that the United States is, for some reason, the best.
This idea of modern American hubris is no stranger to UFO discourse. Nowhere do we see this hubristic ideology more than in aspects of the contemporary Disclosure Movement. Within the various groups and organizations that work towards disclosure, we see a fundamentalist belief that an intelligent Other is secretly working with elites inside the American government.
On a broader philosophical level, it is foolish to assume our deference to a ruling body would be the same for another intelligence. Government is an arbitrary human construct. Simply because humanity, via political evolution, has chosen to develop a system of governance does not mean that it is universal. In simple terms, it is unwise to assume that another intelligence would do the same. While government is a fundamental aspect of modern human civilization, it may have never developed anywhere else in space, time, or dimension...or vibration state...or some other mystical realm.
To suggest that it would be natural or possible for an exosentient being to be able to communicate with humanity, and more importantly, understand that humans order themselves into nations under governing bodies, is ridiculous.
Nuts and Bolts; Exosentience from A Cosmic Elsewhere
To expand upon the flaws in Disclosure itself, it is prudent to examine this via an exophilosophical avenue. Let us assume that the Others are similar to you and I. They have meat bodies, they have agency, and they travel around the cosmos via machines (ie: flying saucers), and they obviously have extreme levels of technology and intelligence that seem magical to humans. It is unlikely that humanity is a species of any concern to them. It would also stand to reason that these beings would not actively engage with any human government. Due to technological ability, permission to act within Earth's atmosphere is not really required, as resistance is not possible. By negotiating with one government over another, and by maintaining the secrecy of the entire project, these Others are acting immorally, especially if the ‘deal’ requires human subjects for testing, or resource collection. This begs the question: If the 'aliens' are keeping this project secret along with the government, they clearly do not care for human ethics; why work with a government at all if that government is powerless to resist? The Disclosure problem goes beyond simple logic.
The old trope of “Take me to your leader…” makes a lot of assumptions concerning language, ontology, epistemology, and even biological evolution. To suggest that an intelligent being outside of human evolution would be able to ‘deal’ with a human government is a flaw in logical reasoning. Brain development alone would alter the totality of being itself. We perceive ourselves, we have “self”, as we do because of the biological and environmental factors which led to the evolution of the human brain. You are you because your brain evolved in a certain way. This does not apply across the cosmos. As biological and environmental factors change, so do evolutionary processes. The intelligent Other may not have a concept of self as humanity does.
We can use the film The Arrival (2016) as an example. Great work was taken by the human protagonists and the alien Heptapods to establish basic communication concerning the idea of individuality. Negotiating a secret human hybridization program would require a lot of similarities in thought processes, language, and biology. The Others would have to be so similar to humans that they might as well be human. Any theory which involves an alien ‘negotiating terms’ with a human government is inane.
The belief that a UFO can land, make contact with the President of the United States, shake his hand, and begin working towards some secret agenda is laughable. It is laughable because that entire exercise would assume that the aliens followed a nearly identical evolutionary path to you and I. It works in TV shows like Star Trek, but the universe is significantly larger and spookier than what human minds can conjure up for the silver screen.
Mystical Beings, Vibration States, and Parallel Dimensions
As our knowledge of the universe expands, we see a big shift in Ufological discourse towards an intelligent Other that is not necessarily from another planet, but from another dimension or reality. Eastern, Indigenous, and New Age philosophies have blended with the concept of ET, and created a picture of an exosentience in the discourse that is both physical and spiritual. This Other is tied into the human psyche because consciousness itself is not limited to the subject, but interconnected through all space, time, possible universes, vibration states, etc.
Again, there lies an inherent problem with Disclosure. No being that can move through this interconnected web of consciousness, or use it to manifest, would need a human government. Similar to a peer to peer internet network, the connections of consciousness can circumvent any other, and propagate itself ad infinitum.
The mythologies and stories that are attached to these intelligent Others goes back millennia. According to much of the mystical narrative, they have been contacting humans before the dawn of agriculture, nevermind government. If we explore North American Indigenous spirituality, humanity has been interwoven with ‘the visitors’ for time immemorial. The American government is a flash in the historical pan, and not only that, if these Others have been communicating with local Indigenous peoples, the American government is probably not someone ‘they’ would want to work with.
Clearly there are issues here. The Disclosure Movement hinges upon the idea that the government, most notably, the American government, “knows something.” One key issue that resonates and causes significant conflict within the Disclosure Movement is just what that “something” is. Reasonable members of the movement typically believe that there may be some very interesting and compelling pictures or videos of anomalous objects or events that have been classified. When pressed, the answer is generally the same; the government knows about as much as the rest of us, they just have better methods of collecting data. Very quickly however, we leave the realm of reason and enter the inner core of the Disclosure Movement; the zealous unhinged belief that the government is working with otherworldly intelligences. A key question that seems to elude these members of the movement is ‘why?’
Some Fun Disclosures; Is there anything that stands the test of reason?
Hope is not lost. While a truthful and legitimate Disclosure is in itself problematic, being that the controllers of the information have little reason to disclose honestly and totally, there may be potential situations where maybe, just maybe, a government has something really juicy to share.
Time travelling humans from the future! While this one is far fetched, it does not bump into the issue of communication. People of the future and people of the present day could probably still interact with one another, at least more so than a species from a different evolutionary track. The obvious problem is that the current political climate doesn’t seem to be getting better, and it is unclear how the use of fossil fuels, denying the facts of global warming, and the current consumption based world view jives with a move towards a bright and happy future. Maybe they are evil time travelling humans? Alternate universe time travelling humans...who all have beards.
The second potential situation involves the classic crashed UFO in the desert scenario, and an intelligence that isn’t so intelligent. This scenario is not so much about a working relationship, but instead focuses on a one time accident (more than once would indicate Larry, Curly and Moe are the intelligence in question), reverse engineering technology, and no real contact between ‘them’ and us. This alleviates the direct communication conflict raised above, since none is occurring. It does raise the issue of epistemology however. We can only reverse engineer what is knowable. The crashed UFO scenario makes two assumptions; first, the technology is similar enough to human technology that we can understand it. This is problematic, as it brings up the evolution problem - if their technology is understandable to us, so too was their evolutionary process; second, they screwed up and crashed, which contradicts the narrative. This also raises one other huge problem. Why do people still experience UFOs and contact?
We can add to this theory by establishing the crash occurred, and now they seek to ‘get their property back.’ Would they negotiate for it? Would they need to? Or would they simply take it back? There are a lot of questions here, but the UFO and contactee narrative paints a picture of an intelligence that simply would not crash their flying saucer. If these Others can move through walls, manifest anywhere, and generally defy the laws of physics, as the stories go, why not just use their superior space magic and zoom off with their stuff?
Finally, the Stranger Things scenario. Perhaps in some secret government lab, an MK-Ultra style project is occurring to tap into the ‘universal consciousness’ for some nefarious political or military reason. During the testing, one of the test subjects opens a rift into the ‘upside down’ and sets forth a chain of events that lead to contact with some other intelligence. Of all of the 'fun' scenarios, this one is my favourite. If we make the assumption that consciousness is connected and universal, communication would occur via some telepathic process which jives with the UFO narrative. However, this could go the other way. Due to the spookiness of the universe, there is no obvious, direct, or knowable path within consciousness itself, at least not that humanity understands. While bumping into a friendly Other is possible, the rift could also lead us straight to the Demogorgon. This one is mind-numbingly problematic and really hinges upon a lot of “what ifs…” I still like it though, not because I think it's real, but because it is the most interesting to think about.
*If you as a reader feel I’ve missed a scenario, I’d love for you to post it in the comment below. We can ruminate further.
All of the scenarios above are nothing more than thought experiments, but they are indicative of the significant philosophical problems Disclosure raises. While the Disclosure Movement engages in its lobbying activities, it does so upon a foundation of sand. The public must always hold its government to account, and strive for the democratization of knowledge. However, that knowledge needs to be grounded in philosophical rationality and logic.
We must also question why Disclosure is such a present and powerful ideology in Western UFO discourse, primarily American UFO discourse, but relatively non-existent in other parts of the world. Is there something about American ideology that suggests an intelligent Other would choose the United States over other nations? If I was warping in from some other star system, from an overall intelligence standpoint, according to PISA education rates, I’d talk to the government of Singapore first. If not them, I’d at least aim for the countries in the top 6 like Japan, Macao, Finland, Estonia and Canada.
I apologize for being glib.
The hubristic nature of Disclosure stems from the belief that humanity is special. It has a theological and dogmatic nature that posits humans have something to offer the universe, we are not an insignificant pale blue dot in a sea of blackness, but something greater. Maybe we are. However, the act of demanding that the government release what it knows about humanity's role in all this alleviates the actual work humans must do to become better. Disclosure is intrinsically a selfish movement; it seeks a fast food experience that will solve humanity’s flaws without struggle, pain, or hard work. Salvation without sacrifice is laziness, and exactly how Disclosure thrives; the mantra being that it is not I who must change, but them. I am innocent, the government is guilty. It shifts responsibility away from you and I, and places it upon a human other.
Perhaps this move to a quick and painless revolution is the new ideology of the United States itself. It is not about the work, objective truth, or actual facts; “alternative facts” work just fine. The old manifest destiny was about settling the West through sweat, blood, and tears; is the new manifest destiny about fixing problems without getting off the couch? In philosophy, ideas must stand the tests of reason and fallacy. The ideas behind Disclosure do not pass those tests. I would challenge the movement to provide a clear and concise exploration of their philosophy, and more importantly, what they believe the government is hiding. Perhaps then people would listen, instead of laugh.